All Native starts Friday

  • Feb. 4, 2009 3:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay-A full day of cultural performances kicks off the 50th All Native Basketball tournament before the games begin. Dancers and drummers from the nine nations playing in the tournament will perform starting at 9 am on Frdiay (Feb. 6). Later in the evening, the Opening Ceremonies will feature representative chiefs from each nation entering the auditorium accompanied by dancers and drummers. Peter Haugan, vice-president of the All-Native Tournament Society says this is the first time there’s been such a cultural focus, but it probably won’t be the last. With over 100 volunteers handling security, first aid, merchandise, refereeing and more, he says the group running the tournament has formalized into a society with six board members. He says they may look for more board members in the future as well. There have been a lot of memorable moments in the 50 years since the tournament got started, he says. Kincolith won the first championship in 1959, but “every community seems to have their day.” Haida action starts at 2:30 pm on Saturday with the Skidegate Masters playing Fort St. James. Massett Masters plays New Aiyansh at 8 pm and the winner of each of those games plays against each other on Feb. 9 at 8 pm. At 4 pm on Saturday (Feb. 7) the Massett Women’s team plays Vancouver. The Skidegate Seniors plays Kincolith at 9:30 pm on Saturday and the winner of that game plays Massett at 8 pm on Sunday. In the Intermediate division Massett and Skidegate go head to head on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 8am. Teams have been fundraising like crazy, needing to come up with major cash to pay for travel and accommodation in Prince Rupert for the week. The Skidegate Senior and Intermediate Saints have been working together says Jason Alsop and have been targeting a total of $14,000 to meet the teams’ needs. Luckily, they have dedicated fans like Golie Hans and her daughter Gladys who help with any fundraising the boys want to do. Ms Hans, whose grandson Aaron is a player, worked at the auction, helped at the door at the fundraising dance and held a potluck dinner to ensure the players are well-looked after in Rupert. She says she’s been going to the games for about 30 years, but before that she’d listen on the radio. When she first went to the tournament, there was no ferry and everyone had to fly over, she said. “I used to be so scared,” she said of the flight. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about at thing, because her daughter looks after all the details. Islanders booked months in advance to ensure they had a room for the 50th anniversary and some fans might be disappointed they won’t be able to attend. Even Lonnie Young, on the very first Skidegate Saints team to attend in 1963 doesn’t have a room. He has fond memories from the first tournament though, especially of the Rupert reporter who called the Saints “the most boring team.” “We were taught to be real defensive,” said Mr. Young, adding that offensive players seemed to get more attention. “But we ended up in the finals,” he said. The Saints took second place in that long ago tournament and, as can be seen in the photo submitted by Golie Hans (her sister Gladys Vandal took it), returned to the islands in style.